I have a “type.” I suspect you probably do too. Mine has little to do with height, weight or hair color. It has everything to do with a handful of qualities that I admire. I’m attracted to men who see a problem with the world and take it upon themselves to do something about it. Show me a man who’s doing something about hunger in Africa and my next question will probably relate to his relationship status. That last statement was slightly hyperbolic but the point remains; the men I’ve dated or had a thing for over the last year or so (to be clear, all really rad guys) have had certain traits in common — a specific sort of compassion that, in turn, shaped their careers.
I don’t actually apologize for finding these qualities attractive. The biblical framework for church, calls us to meet both spiritual and practical needs. Moreover there are numerous verses that call us to seek justice, Mathew 5:9 reads “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God.” Working to dismantle gross inequalities is a biblically sound, worthwhile endeavor. And in the grand scheme of things, having a thing for do-gooders is probably better than crushing on a guy who hates on puppies and burns styrofoam for kicks.
Even so, it took me a while to recognize that I’m attracted to these sort of men because on some level, they represent the sort of person I want to be. My personal experience attests to the fact that when we unthinkingly attach ourselves to someone who already encompasses the things we feel called to, the following can take place:
- We get lazy.
By dating rather than becoming, we place the burden of stewarding our gifts on the shoulders of someone else.
- We flout God’s creative intent.
The bible tells us that each person is uniquely called and uniquely gifted. This offers us an extraordinarily diverse picture of how the kingdom ought to work in the here-and-now. Our identities have already been named by God. The dreams that have been whispered into our hearts are nuanced and however admirable another path might be, the identity that’s been staked for someone else isn’t ours to co-opt.
- We readily turn types (and even personal calling) into idols.
It’s possible that I’ll marry someone whose heart is hardwired in the same way that mine happens to be – deeply concerned for others, adamant about using whatever influence they have on behalf of those who have none. However, admiration for certain aspects of a person shouldn’t stand in the way of honestly assessing compatibility. Moreover, it’s helpful to remember that while our culture elevates certain career paths as proof of our commitment and values, God simply asks us to hold him as our first love. Perhaps more incredibly, God rebukes those who inadvertently flip the two. Consider Martha or the church in Ephesus, they were doing good things and it didn’t matter.
My preferences have changed over the years and will likely change in the future. Rather than giving so much weight to a relatively arbitrary measure, I’ve taken to asking myself some of the following questions: Where does his identity rest? Apart from our shared appreciation for [insert quality here], do we have much in common? Do I like who he is as a person, how he treats people and how he cares for me? What matters most to him?
What questions are you currently asking yourself?